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The Showrunner for Peacock's Brave New World Discusses the Challenges of Adapting the Classic Dystopia

From Brave New World.
From Brave New World.
Image: NBC

One of Peacock’s flagship premieres, as it launched this past week, was Brave New World, a TV adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel, one of the oldest and most iconic takes on the science fiction dystopia. But it’s hard to adapt a future made with the knowledge of 1932 without making a few modifications.

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Talking to Syfy Wire, showrunner David Wiener (Fear the Walking Dead) discussed the changes the show made and the ones it didn’t. By and large, he says, the adaptational work was easy—aside from details like technology, Brave New World translates rather well.

“It is actually an easy book to be faithful to, on some level because the premise is so strong,” Wiener said. “The remarkable thing was that we wound up actually hitting a lot of the same plot points as Huxley did but we get there in a very different way.”

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He continued, saying that the modern world that inspired Wiener’s version of Brave New World wouldn’t much surprise Huxley. “He might be disappointed, but I think it seems to be an extension of what he was focused on and warning against.”

Case in point: social media, which is exaggerated in Peacock’s Brave New World to deepen and contemporize the lack of privacy in New London’s hedonistic, thoughtless society. The TV show also, interestingly, modernizes the book’s take on race, suggesting that, in this version of the future, anyways, racial politics aren’t what defines the stratified class structure at the heart of Brave New World’s oppression.

“The book is problematic [in] how it deals not only with race, but also with gender roles and, you know, it’s kind of a very conventional idea of sexual attitudes of its time,” Wiener said. This take allows the show to cast diversely, though one does wonder if it also keeps the show from having anything interesting to say about race, omitting that element altogether.

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Syfy Wire has more about the show, including its take on the book’s hypersexuality, which is a major feature of New London society, an aspect that also needed some adapting to fit within the standards and norms of prestige television.

Brave New World is watchable now on Peacock.


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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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DISCUSSION

The TV show also, interestingly, modernizes the book’s take on race, suggesting that, in this version of the future, anyways, racial politics aren’t what defines the stratified class structure at the heart of Brave New World’s oppression.

Racial politics aren’t what defined the class structure in the novel at all! It’s the entire point of the freaking book that everyone is genetically engineered and then conditioned in utero to fill a specific role in a specific caste, and there is no possibility of movement (and with the conditioning, practically no desire to want to be anything other than what you were designed to be). 


I’ve read several reviews of this thing now, and it seems that none of the reviewers read or understood the novel (or even the Wiki page about it) in this regard.